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This Day in Pop Culture for April 21

1977: ‘Annie’ Opens on Broadway

Though the Broadway musical Annie is said to be based on Harold Gray’s comic strip, Little Orphan Annie, in reality, very little other than the characters of Annie, Daddy Warbucks and Sandy the dog were actually used from the comics. In 1972, Thomas Meehan was approached to write the book for the new musical and since he wasn’t able to find any satisfactory material, he came up with his own backstory for Annie living at an orphanage, Miss Hannigan the and rest. With music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin, Annie premiered on Broadway on this day in 1977. It starred Andrea McArdle as Annie, Reid Shelton as Daddy Warbucks, Dorothy Loudon as Miss Hannigan, and Sandy Faison as Grace Farrell. It was nominated for eleven Tony Awards and won seven, including the Best Musical, Best Score, and Best Book. After a total of 2,377 performances, there were no more “tomorrows” when the show closed on January 2, 1983. However, the show had revivals in 1997 and 2012.

1962: Space Needle Opens

In 1959, Edward E. Carlson, president of Western International Hotels, scribbled his idea for the main structure to serve as a centerpiece to the 1962 World’s Fair on a paper napkin at a local coffee house. Inspired by the Stuttgart Tower in Germany, Carlson thought a similar building would fit the “21  Century” theme of the Seattle fair. The design of the building went through many shapes before settling on the “flying saucer” idea which wasn’t finalized until a year and a half before the fair’s opening. 467 cement trucks were used to fill the 30 foot deep by 120 feet hole which was to be used as the Needle’s foundation weighing in as much as the Space Needle itself. The 605-foot tall Needle was finished in December of 1961 and officially opened on this day in 1962.


1986: Geraldo Rivera Opens Al Capone’s Vaults and Finds Nothing

Gerald Rivera

Notorious and “most wanted” gangster, Al Capone, began his life of crime in Chicago in 1919 and had his headquarters set up at the Lexington Hotel until his arrest in 1931. Years later, renovations were being made at the hotel when a team of workers discovered a shooting-range and series of connected tunnels that led to taverns and brothels making for an easy escape should there be a police raid. Rumors were spread that Capone had a secret vault hidden under the hotel as well. In 1985, news reporter Geraldo Rivera had been fired from ABC after he criticized the network for canceling his report made about an alleged relationship between John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe. It seemed like a good time for Rivera to scoop a new story to repair his reputation. It was on this day in 1986 that his live, two-hour, syndicated TV special, The Mystery of Al Capone’s Vault aired. After lots of backstory, the time finally came to reveal what was in that vault. It turned out to be empty. After the show, Rivera was quoted as saying “Seems like we struck out.”


  • 1935: Charles Grodin (actor)
  • 1936: James Dobson (evangelist)
  • 1949: Patti LuPone (actress)
  • 1951: Tony Danza (actor)
  • 1958: Andie MacDowell (actress)
  • 1970: Rob Riggle (comedian)
  • 1980: Tony Romo (football player)

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Jeffrey Totey View All

I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.

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